Login

History Record View

Title: Harry Kramer: The Man Behind the Indiana Springs Company & Mudlavia
File Attachment:
Attachment Type:
Text:

Harry Lewis Kramer was born in Keokuk, Iowa in 1861 to Frederick & Sarah Rebecca Crawford Kramer. At age twenty-four he moved to Lafayette, Indiana and two years later was the owner of the Kramer Publishing and advertising Company located on the second floor of the Underwood Building on Ferry Street. One of Kramer's clients was John W. Heath president of the Lafayette National Bank, entrepreneur and owner of the Sterling Remedy Company, a patent drug company. Sam Story, a Civil War veteran, had discovered the restorative powers of the Pine Creek area while digging ditches to tile the area in 1884. A small hotel had been built to cash in on the springs by offering a resort for the sick and afflicted, but the business was not prospering. In June 1887, Kramer visited Cameron Springs on behalf of John Heath. The meeting ended with Heath becoming the primary shareholder in Cameron Springs. In January 1889, a syndicate of capitalists purchased Cameron Springs with H.L. Kramer as general manager, secretary and treasurer. At this time, Kramer was the manager of the Humane Remedy Company of Lafayette which operated a sanitarium and mail business for the treatment and cure of morphine addiction. He was also the manager of the Universal Remedy Company of Lafayette which consisted of "manufacturing and selling of proprietary articles". Plans were made to turn the springs into a health resort attractive to the best class of people. In June, Cameron Springs was changed to Indiana Mineral Springs. The Warren Republican reported in August 1889 that John Heath, president of the Indiana Mineral Springs, asked for an appointment of a receiver. He alleged that under the management of H.L. Kramer the property was likely to be wasted and funds misappropriated. Judge Rabb determined there were not sufficient grounds to appoint a receiver. A half hour later, when two contractors owed $4,000 for working on improvments at the Springs filed for an appointment of a reciever, Judge Rabb appointed James Caldwell of Lafayette. When the Lafayette Courier asked Kramer about his troubles at Indiana Mineral Springs in August 1889, he replied he was leaving for good and going East for a couple of months. The company had purchased the Springs from William Cameron, Sr., under the contract for $10,500. So far, no payments had been made. The Company did not hold title to the Springs and the first installment of $4,500 was due shorttly. Dissatisfaction had arisen between the stockholders and the directors with neither side co-operating with the other The company's liabilities were estimated at $20,000 with another $40,000 needed to complete the improvements. John Heath, it was said, had already provided $10,000 of his own money for the benefit of the company. In January 1890, John Heath bought the Indiana Mineral Springs at a receiver's sale with a bid of $32,000. An $8,000 mortgage brought the price to $40,000. Work began on a new hotel in May. Heath died of nervous prostration at age 50 on September 4, 1890. Although the ribbon cutting ceremony was held Dec. 15, 189-, the hotel opening was delayed due to complications with Heath's estate. In 1891, Kramer and a group of investors raised $250,000 in capital to purchase stocks from Heath's widow and formed the Indiana Springs Company. President of the investment group was A.L. Thomas, head of Chicago's Lord & Thomas Advertising firm. The group transferred the springs and the Humane Remedy Company to Kramer and named him general manager on the condition he would assume various outstanding obligations against the corporation. The hotel opened for business May 1, 1891. In August, William Barbee and Kramer bought the Indiana Mineral Springs for over $22,000. George Ade was persuaded by Kramer to leave his $6.00 a week journalism job at the Call, a Lafayette newspaper, to enter the patent medicine business in Attica. Kramer offered Ade a weekly salary of $12.00, which was later increased to $15.00. Ade was a department manager in charge of writing advertisements, dictating correspondence and attending to the dispatch of mail. Extensive use of advertising in newspapers, magazines, billboards, pamphlets, and window display cards was used to promote Mudlavia and the Sterling Remedy Company products. In 1900, the Sterling Remedy Company spent $400,000 in advertising. By the early 1900's Kramer was well known nationally in the business sector for his extravagant and often provocative advertisements. Henry Kramer married Anna S. Moore in 1892. They and their two sons, Robert B. and Will C. lived on the 4th floor of the hotel. The Moore family owned large plots of land that surrounded Indiana Springs Co. Later, the Moore ground and the Indiana Springs acreage were owned by the Kramer family. No-To-Bac, a sure cure for the tobacco habit because the first directions read: "immediately discontinue the use of tobacco." was manufactured for a few years at Mudlavia, but most tobacco users did not wish to quit. The manufacture and packaging of Cascarets, a laxative, was taken over by Kramer and moved to Attica from Lafayette into the Sterling Remedy Company building located on the northeast corner of W. Jackson and South Perry in 1896 to be close to the railroad. Kramer was a millionarie by the time he was thirty-seven years old in 1898. In 1903, more than ten million boxes of Cascarets were sold. It made the Attica Post Office a first class post office, second only to Indianapolis in the amount of receipts. The town of Indiana Mineral Springs sounded similar to other towns so Kramer went to Chicago and spoke to President Grover Cleveland to secure permission to change the town's name to Kramer. In March of 1901 the town was officially recognized as Kramer by the U.S. Postal Service. Harry Kramer served as postmaster once when the town was known as Cameron Springs, three times when it was Indiana Mineral Springs and again as the town of Kramer. The hotel's name was changed to Mudlavia Springs to better describe the treatments given. Kramer was a major player on the Board of Trade. He held extensive mining interests in Missouri and Canada and was a partner in the Lord & Thomas Advertising firm. He had offices and homes in Chicago and Cleveland, Ohio. In 1909, he sold his patent medicine shares for $1,800,000 and the company moved to Wheeling, West Virginia. It was one of the largest business transactions of the time. Kramer bought Dr. Dinsmore's interest in the Hunter Springs Sanitarium in January 1913. He retired as general manager and treasurer of the Indiana Springs Company the same year. After retiring, he spent nearly a year abroad and four to five years in California. His son, Will, was manager from 1916 until the fire in 1920 while Robert, the other son, served in WWI. William married Sara Warren. He later managed the family mining interests in Joplin, Missouri and the Cobalt District of Canada. When Mudlavia caught fire in March 1920, its grounds were valued at $1,500,000. The insured loss was estimated ast $250,000. It was estimated that Anna Kramer lost $25,000 in jewelry and furniture. The Kramer family suffered further financial loss with the stock market crash of 1929. Kramer had become close friends and a business associate of the controversial St. Louis publishing magnate Edward Gardner Lewis. Kramer served as vice president of the Lewis Publishing Company. In 1927, Kramer was sentenced to two years in a federal penitentiary at McNeil Island, Washington. He was convicted in Los Angeles, California for using the mails to defraud in his promotional schemes. Kramer was also fined $250 on each of nine counts of mail fraud and $2,500 on a tenth count of conspriacy. Kramer and Lewis were promoters of Atascadero estates in California and University City, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. Both were charged with having obtained $600,000 on a fake magazine circulation scheme involving offers of interests in oil wells and almond groves to accompany life subscriptions to the California Illustrated Review. In 1928, Kramer and Lewis were sentenced for a second time to a term in federal prison on a charge of using the mails to defraud in connection with a "personal loan" campaign in which $1,213,000 was raised from investors on the promise that they would be paid huge profits from oil drilling operations linked with the Atascadero land project. Kramer received a sentence of one year and a day and a fine of $2,000. Later the same year, Kramer had his sentenve suspended, having been judged innocent. It was determined that Kramer had merely gone to Lewis' assistance when he was in trouble. Kramer returned to Lafayette in 1933 wher he lived in a modest home at 1012 Ferry Street. Henry Kramer died in 1935 at age 74 in Lafayette of a heart attack. His fortune was reported to have dwindled to a small fraction of its former value. He and his wife Anna, who died in 1942, were buried in Greenbush Cemetary in Lafayette.

Date: 9/1/2009
Origin:
Author: Warren County Reflections
Record ID: 00003244
Type: Periodical
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 5/28/2013
Collection:
Entered By: WCHS

Information in this record is provided for personal research purposes only and may not be reproduced for publication. If you have questions about copyright issues contact the archive source listed above.